Saturday, May 02, 2009

Maui Wowee: Part One

Hello everyone!

Sorry about the delay, but I have legitimately been out of commission for the past three or four five or six days. I even went to see the doctor to make sure I didn't have the Swine Flu, or, rather, H1N1 Influenza A, because I had all the symptoms except for a fever (which I wasn't even sure about since we don't have a thermometer). But I didn't have a fever, which meant no Swine Flu H1N1 Influenza A or any influenza for that matter. Here's a photo of me in the waiting room complete with a mask to protect everyone else in case I had Captain Trips:

BTW, here's a handy dandy test you can take to find out if you have Swine Flu H1N1 Influenza A.

Some of you might think I overreacted by going to the doctor, but after listening to these two women on my flight from Seattle to Portland talking about their trip to Cancun, I wasn't taking any chances. Besides, I got a free mask!

Not having Swine Flu H1N1 Influenza A is all fine and dandy, but several days later I still feel like crap. In fact, the last time I was this sick was after the Christmas/New Year's trip to Idaho in 2005-06 when we decided to fly from Portland to Spokane and back instead of driving. Both Cathy and I felt like we were on our respective deathbeds after that trip. I guess that's what happens when you cram a whole bunch of people into a small space and have them breathe each other's air. If one of the passengers is sick, those germs get to go hog wild. Add this to my list of reasons I hate flying, which includes, in no particular order: tight, cramped spaces that all but put passengers into the same stress positions as the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay; annoying flight attendants that wake you by announcing over the loudspeaker that they now accept debit cards to purchase their crappy food and then wake you just to ask if you want a beverage--as if that's exactly what sleeping people want; screaming children and snoring adults; people sitting near you who won't shut up about the least interesting topics possible, such as which CSI is the best; and, of course, good old TSA searches (more on that later).

Speaking of which, if they're going to go through all the trouble of "protecting our safety" by making everyone take his or her shoes off and by banning more than 3 ounces of liquid toiletries on the flight, why not just have a bunch of doctors there to check everyone for sickness? If you're sick and contagious, you don't fly. Not only would it protect everyone who isn't sick (like me before my flight), but it would also give everyone a free medical checkup. Of course, that would probably go against a person's Constitutional rights to spread disease as far and wide as possible. However, our Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure apparently doesn't apply if we want to fly on an airline.

Anyway, I'm getting off track. This post is supposed to be about our fantastic Maui trip, so here goes!

Since we were flying out of Portland early Saturday morning, we decided to head up there Friday night and get a room. Some of the motels near the airport have a deal where if you stay a night, you can park in their lot for up to ten days for free. Since a week's worth of parking at the airport costs almost as much as a room, we went this route, just like we did when we went to Alaska last September.

Anyway, we got up at the ungodly hour of 3 am Saturday morning (actually, Cathy did, but I slept in for another half hour or so while she showered and got ready) and caught the 4:20 shuttle to the airport! After checking in at the always-understaffed counter to get our boarding passes, we went and waited in the next line to check in our luggage.

See, PDX has the stupidest setup I've ever encountered. You wait in line at the airline counter to check in and get your boarding passes. Then, if you have luggage to check, you put it on the scale and the airline counter person puts a sticker on it so the luggage handlers know where it's going. So far so good.

But here's where it gets stupid. Instead of the counter attendant placing your luggage on the belt behind him or her and sending it to be loaded on the plane, you have to take your luggage and go wait in another line near the door to have the TSA agents scan it. Fortunately for us, there wasn't much of a line here. Then the TSA agents take your bags (along with ones from a variety of other flights and airlines) and pile them on a big flatbed cart, which, once full, gets wheeled back over to the belt behind the ticket counter and unloaded. In theory, other people behind the curtain sort out the bags as they come through all mismatched and thrown together. What an idiotic setup!

Why can't they just set up the TSA scanning station just on the other side of the curtain? In all the other airports I've checked luggage into (which admittedly hasn't been a lot, but has been a more than a couple), that's the was they do it. You just check in your luggage at the counter, and they take it away. You don't have to go stand in another line. Even in Hawaii where you have an extra line for fruit inspection, you don't have to deal with the crap you do in Portland. I guess the powerful luggage cart lobby managed to get its way at PDX!

Anyway, after the first two lines, we headed over to line number three: security! Like a dumbass, I had forgotten to pack my sandals (who needs sandals in Maui?), so I of course had to take off my hiking boots. I also had a laptop and a video camera in my backpack, so I had to take those out and seperate them as well. All told, I ended up using four of the tubs, and somehow managed to make it through with a relatively small amount of hassle.

Not so for Cathy. Sure, she was wearing sandals and had a backpack containing nothing that needed to be seperated (she knows how to travel since she often does so for work), so her trip through the metal detector went smoothly. But then she was "randomly selected" for an in-depth search. By "in-depth" I mean thorough. The TSA lady actually felt up my wife. As in touched her private parts. To any of you thinking it would be hot to watch your wife get felt up by another woman in public, I'm hear to tell you it's not, at least when the other lady is an old TSA employee wearing rubber gloves and you're at an airport at 5 am.

Of course, I can't blame the lady since it's apparenly her job to do this. But what sort of sexually-repressed bureaucrat thought up this policy? I mean, taking off shoes is bad enough, but at least that was done in response to someone supposedly trying to light a crude, homemade bomb in his shoe while on a plane. But has anyone tried to smuggle a bomb aboard an airplane in his or her private parts? Moreover, even if this has happened before, does that justify random searches in which a federal officer cops a feel? Standing there watching my wife all but get violated by this woman for doing nothing more than wanting to take a vacation, I couldn't help but notice how Soviet Union-ish this was, but with a touch of good old American sexual repression added. Do you feel safer now?

I've noticed this posting is running quite long, and we haven't even left the mainland yet. But I'm going to end it here for now and post a sequel (or two or three) in the next few days. Cathy took lots of great photos, so we still have a long way to go. Stay tuned!


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Anonymous Custom Homes Cupertino Ca said...

If you're getting it, you're getting it. It's just like chickenpox. They say when somebody in the house gets it he can infect everybody else but that's not the case with me. Everybody in our house had it except for me and to think I never had it yet. Living a healthy lifestyle is the key to long life.

10:03 PM, November 24, 2009  

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